July 31, 2002
Disaster is always a clarifying event, which was why I was kinda hoping that there was more to this story about an asteroid streaking toward the earth threatening the human race with near-extinction. Why, they even had Doomsday – February 1, 2019 – all picked out. Dr. Benny Peiser, an asteroid expert, told Reuters:
"In the worst case scenario, a disaster of this size would be global in its extent, would create a meltdown of our economic and social life, and would reduce us to dark age conditions."
It turns out to have been a false alarm, but just imagine if it hadn't. At least, in that case, our physical condition would finally come to reflect our inner state. For what else can one say about a people that starves to death the children of a nation – namely Iraq – for over a decade, and then, tiring of playing with its victims, moves slowly and noisily in for the kill? What else can we call them but barbarians?
Morally, we never left the Dark Ages. The proof is to be found in the war plans of our rulers, who, with nary a peep from most of you, are about to embark on a military campaign against a country that has never attacked us – and is, indeed, utterly incapable of doing so. For weeks we have been inundated by various "leaked" war plans, of one sort or another, detailing the precise strategy and tactics to be used in conquering Iraq. These battlefield scenarios detail the tactical aspects of a massive US invasion that will likely involve tens of thousands of civilian casualties, and level much of that unfortunate country – just as if it had been hit by a giant asteroid. Only in this case, the malevolent Thing from Outer Space that came howling out of the great Void is not a chunk of rock, but a clique of power-maddened American politicians, and their corporate and political allies in both parties.
I am sick unto death of our Western triumphalists, who hail "the end of history" and the supposedly unassailable virtues of "democracy" and "free markets." What friggin' hypocrites they are! Here we are about to go to war, and the Senate holds hearings on the subject with not a single opponent of our war policy scheduled to testify! Oh, isn't democracy wonderful! Aren't you oh-so-glad that you live in the freest country in the world? Doesn't it make you swell with pride?
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joe Biden gets to largely pick the line-up of witnesses, albeit with input from the other members. "The senator believes it's time to start a wider national dialogue on a potentially critical decision to go to war," says Norm Kurz, Biden's communications director. "We need to educate the American public on the risks of both action and inaction on Iraq."
Pardon me while I go vomit….
There. I feel a little better, but not much. Kurz, and Biden, are liars: This isn't a "dialogue," it's a monologue, with only one side allowed to have its say. Let's go down the witness list, culled from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee website, and see for ourselves. On day one, we have the following:
Dr. Phebe Marr, a former Professor at National Defense University in Washington, DC – This Valkyrie of the War Party believes that both Iraq and Iran are equally deserving of US attentions on account of their stubborn desire to "deter real adversaries," including the US, by acquiring "weapons of mass destruction." She admits that "both powers have a new, powerful motive; deterrence of the US," but her solution to the problem – "regime change" – seems somehow counterintuitive. She told the St. Petersburg Times that "the transition to a new Iraqi government would be turbulent but adds "'that's the price we're going to have to pay' to set Iraq on a better course."
Someone should tell Phebe that it's the people of Iraq who will pay the price, while people like her will be charged with exacting it. See what I mean about being in the Dark Ages? With views like that, she should come to the hearings dressed in animal skins, her withered old neck adorned with a necklace of bones.
Next up is Mrs. Rahim Francke, Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based Iraq Foundation and a leading figure in the Iraq National Congress – you remember them, they're the guys who mishandled and perhaps outright embezzled "tens of millions" in US tax dollars and were all but cut from the dole in January. This hardly came as a surprise to longtime observers of the Iraqi exile scene: after all, the INC's leader, Ahmad al-Chalabi, was convicted by Jordan for embezzling money from his own bank. The Iraq Foundation, although nominally an "independent" thinktank, is in reality funded by the US government and is the main conduit of Washington's direct influence over the Iraqi opposition. Ms. Francke has long advocated US aid to the INC, and will doubtless be trotted out to present her plan: unleashing the Iraqi opposition to penetrate Iraq and set up "free zones" with food aid that would act as a "magnet to Iraqis" – and provoke Saddam into attacking, thus drawing in the US.
Dr. Sinan al-Shabibi an economist with the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva, Switzerland, who will be wheeled out to tell us how to rebuild what we destroyed – and how much it's going to cost us.
Then there's Col. Scott Feil (Ret.), Executive Director of something called "Role of American Military Power," an interventionist nutball of the "humanitarian" school, who argues that the US should have invaded Rwanda in the name of "saving lives."
The day's proceedings will be topped off by two former US government officials, representing the interventionist views of past administrations of both parties: Sandy Berger and Caspar Weinberger. These two will disagree, mildly, on how to go about it, but you can be sure there will be no dissent on the key question of whether or not a war to unseat Saddam is in American interests.
Day two will hardly give us a respite from this Soviet-style unanimity, when the witnesses will include:
Richard Butler, former head of UNSCOM, a man who has made a career out of campaigning for war with Iraq, now with the Council on Foreign Relations; Dr. Khidir Hamza, an Iraqi nuclear engineer who claims (without offering much in the way of solid evidence) that the "Saddam bomb" is close to becoming a reality; Professor Anthony Cordesman, Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who has been skeptical of the Iraqi opposition, and likewise critical of the Clinton administration's Iraq policy:
"The Clinton Administration spoke stickly and carried a big soft. It 'nickel and dimed' its use of force to contain Iraq, issued a series of abortive threats over UN inspections, launched Desert Fox, and then halted it before it could be effective. Two years of pin-prick strikes over the 'No Fly Zones' have done as much to give Saddam a propaganda victory as they have to hurt his air defenses."
No "pin-prick" strikes for Commander Cordesman: it's damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!
Gen. Joseph Hoar (ret.), is a former commander of the U.S. Central Command that dispatched forces to Somalia: perhaps he can give us a few pointers in how to avoid having your men captured and dragged through the streets. The solution, no doubt: overwhelming force. (Remember, non-intervention is not an option….)
Robert Gallucci, Dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and another veteran of UNSCOM, will give us the diplomatic perspective, from a viewpoint that can only be described as interventionist if not overtly pro-war. Here is a man who once said:
"You can endlessly explain to Americans and I've done this that there are children and old people who are starving to death, that there are old people who are not getting medicine, and that there have been deaths as a result of what Saddam has done, and not as a result of the sanctions. You explain that Saddam is successfully blackmailing the international community and holding his own people as hostages. The answer is: 'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah… but if you lift sanctions those people won't die.' I can't get over that reaction."
Not that he didn't try really really hard….
Dr. Morton Halperin, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, poster boy of Democratic multilateralism, and a rabid interventionist who wants to arm the Iraqi opposition and – I'll save us the trouble of listening to his upcoming testimony by quoting what he has said at similar Senatorial dog-and-pony shows:
"There is an alternative policy and that is to arm the opposition and to try to get rid of the current regime quickly. I think it is no doubt that it would be in our interest to do so. I think one can raise serious questions about whether we should have done it when we had the chance to do so, when we had an overwhelming army in the field and we had defeated the Iraqi military force. But I do not think we should allow ourselves the luxury of believing that somehow this can be done on the cheap.
"If we arm people and put them in the country, if we declare and support the creation of safe zones in the North or in the South, we have to mean it. And that means we have to be prepared to commit as much military force as it will take to hold those zones against an attack. And it means we cannot wait until they're attacked."
Halperin previously has argued in favor of merely containing Saddam, but here he is communing with the monstrous Max Boot on the "Communitarian Network," where he complains that Bush I should have finished off the conquest of Iraq, criticizes Clinton for being too softcore, and hails Bush II for "attacking without restraint" after 9/11. For all his "multilateralism," this guy is no peacenik.
Another witness is one Charles Deulfer, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, of whom former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter said:
"On one occasion, I uncovered activity that I viewed as being suspicious, and that it was being done on behalf of the United States. The deputy executive chairman of UNSCOM, Charles Deulfer, is an American, the senior American. So I went to him with my concerns, and I laid it out, and I said, 'Charles, this is what I think's happening. What are we going to do about it?'
"Well, his response was, 'Scott, I can't talk about it, and my advice to you is to stop digging, son, because you're getting into national security areas, and if you keep moving, you'll have a problem with the FBI. It's a law enforcement problem. It's espionage, and you'll lose that game.'"
Geoffrey Kemp, of the Nixon Center, is a raving interventionist, whose testimony on this occasion will probably differ only in degrees of emphasis from what it was last year:
"The only sure way to replace the Baathist regime is to invade and occupy Iraq. This is such a daunting challenge that it would require a far greater consensus amongst regional and international partners of the United States that is present today. While Iraqi forces are much weaker than in 1991, they may still have access to WMD and certainly possess short range surface to surface missiles. The occupation of an Arab country by American forces would reinforce Muslim radicals basic tenet that we are intent on waging a war against Islam.
"Nevertheless under certain circumstances we may have no option but to take such a step…."
And we mustn't forget Fouad Ajami,, an Arabic Steppin' Fetchit who, no matter what the occasion, can be counted on to denigrate the culture of his ancestors and rationalize US military intervention as a program of moral and cultural uplift.
Representing Turkish interests is Mark Parris, former US ambassador to Turkey, and now a Senior Policy Advisor at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, & Caldwell, the high-powered Washington, D.C. law firm where Lawrence Eagleburger holds court and Linda Hall Daschle, wife of the Senate Majority Leader, lobbies for high-powered clients. This is going to be one of the highlights of the hearings: an explanation of just how the US can possibly justify opposing an independent state for the oppressed Kurds – the very Kurds it claims to want to "liberate" from the Iraqi yoke.
And of course a propaganda show such as this wouldn't be complete without Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney (ret.). former Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force and now head of something called "Business Executives for National Security," which has pushed the Star Wars program and represents the union of global business interests and our policy of global intervention. He's a talking head who always shows up whenever the winds of war blow, bloviating and making predictions that never come true, such as this one enunciated in December of last year:
"We have basically eviscerated their capacity to project power outside of Afghanistan. They are really right now in the survival-only mode. Bin Laden has gone to ground, as we say. I expect we will have him in two weeks."
I can hardly wait for his predictions about the Iraq war. All we have to do is invert whatever he says and we'll probably be much closer to the truth – The General is a kind of oracle in reverse. He just loved the Kosovo war, and he is sure to love this one, too, provided we can do it on the cheap.
Dr. Shibley Telhami, a political science Professor at the University of Maryland, was advisor to the United States delegation to the United Nations during Gulf War I, and also was on the staff of Congressman Lee Hamilton. His vague, unremarkable opinions are likely to reflect the mushy bromides of a piece, co-authored with "communitarian" Amitai Etzioni, which have no discernible meaning or application in the world of foreign affairs: at best, what we'll get from him is a cautionary note, and advice on how best to pacify the Arab masses.
So this is to be our "great debate" over the question of war and peace in the Middle East – not a debate at all, but a procession of rationalizers and enablers, who will explain just how and why it is necessary to annex half the Middle East and subjugate the rest. It's an outrage, one that a free people would never sit still for – so why are you sitting still for it?
You need to follow this link and get on the phone at once – call your congressional representatives and ask them: how come there's just one side being presented at these phony-as-all-get-out "hearings"? What's up with that?
Remind them that, in spreading "democracy" to the four corners of the globe, we seem to be neglecting its practice right here at home.
Tell them you think the panel is stacked, and you might even make some concrete suggestions. What about Scott Ritter, the former weapons inspector who says there is no evidence that Iraq has "weapons of mass destruction," or any of the other UN inspectors who say the same thing? What about someone from one of the noninterventionist thinktanks in Washington? (I'll think of one in just a minute….) Why not have Kathy Kelly, who has been to Iraq, and dealt directly with its people, to get a feel for what the on-the-ground consequences of an invasion would really be like? What about General Sir Michael Rose, the British former commander of Allied forces in Bosnia, whose eloquent dissent from "the madness of going to war with Iraq" has just been published? And what about some of our own military, who have been leaking the hare-brained schemes of the military planners like mad and keep telling journalists that they oppose this war? Let these military whistle-blowers tell it like it is, without fear or favor, and give them immunity from political retaliation.
Like that Killer Asteroid from Beyond the Stars, the prospect of war is hurtling toward us at breakneck speed.
It doesn't seem to matter to the War Party that the economy may collapse: money is no object in the struggle for global hegemony especially if that money belongs to other people and the War Industry continues to rake in record profits.
As for genuine US interests, they are of little concern when the fate of Israel hangs in the balance: a US invasion and pacification of much of the region would solve Ariel Sharon's problems more quickly and completely than anything the IDF might accomplish in the West Bank. What more do we need to know?
Iraq's fabled "weapons of mass destruction," in the unlikely event they exist, are likely to hit Israeli, not Jordanian or Saudi targets. So who cares if the Arab contingent of the anti-terrorist coalition falls apart, and those "moderate" governments are no more? All that matters is that Israel's amen corner in the US is appeased, so both parties can count on the support of key constituencies come election time.
If this is "democracy," then I say the heck with it.
520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form